Hawaii: Olena Hummus & Healing

'Olena (turmeric) may be added to everyday foods—smoothies, salad dressings and even hummus served up with kohlrabi "crackers."On the central Hamakua Coast there are four Farmers' Markets within 30 miles. Yesterday we hit the Hawaiian Homesteads Farmers' Market in Waimea.

The exciting find of the day was Kai Kaholokai’s vendor booth. Kai is a Native Hawaiian Herbal Practitioner—a man with a gentle spirit, brilliant mind and well-versed in ayurveda. Along with his wife Linda Mae, he runs the Kai Malino Wellness Center in Kapaau and produces herbal healing products using Hawaiian medicinal plants.

Kai and his tinctures and powders.One of these sacred plants is ‘Olena. The root of ‘Olena is about the size of an adult thumb and was likely one of the two dozen or so plants brought to Hawaii by canoe by early voyaging Polynesians. It is best known throughout the world as turmeric—a member of the ginger family and when dried and ground into powder is what gives curry spice mixtures their brilliant yellow color.

Tumeric ('Olena) is a relative of ginger.For centures, turmeric has been cultivated as a dye, as a spice and for medicinal purposes. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin and is one of nature’s most powerful healers. Long known for its anti-inflammatory properties, research continues to reveal turmeric’s promise to cure. It is helpful in treating earaches, sinusitis, bronchitis, colds and asthma, and enhances the immune system by purifying the blood. Here are twenty reasons why you might consider adding turmeric to your diet. Please remember that I am not a doctor and that you should always consult your MD or ND before adding supplements to your diet.

The Kai Malino Wellness Center takes orders online. Kai's website is worth taking a peek at. You just might find the remedy you’ve been looking for! Not that I am looking forward to getting sick, but when I do, I will have his turmeric/awa-kava/chinese ginger/Alaea clay powder mixture on hand to blend with lemon and honey for a speedy recovery.

For everyday immune support I will continue to sneak turmeric into our diet by way of smoothies, salad dressings, dips and atop veggies. Lately I've been hiding it in a basil hummus that I smear on quesadillas to replace the cheese (for our non-dairy boy) and on sandwiches to replace the mayo. Until I get around to writing the recipe down, here is what goes in it: garbanzo beans, sesame seed, olive oil, lemon juice, fresh basil, turmeric and salt.

I'd enjoy hearing from you! Do you cook with or take tumeric regularly? What has been your experience?

Finally, I will end this post with a lovely Hawaiian mele (song) about the flower of the ‘Olena plant. Singing in her effortlessly pure voice is Diana Aki.

Pua `Olena Lyrics